The successful performance of Mikhail Kolyada and Evgeny Semenenko at the World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm – 2021 almost 100% guaranteed Russia the third quota in men’s singles at the Olympic Games in Beijing. However, this ticket still needs to be confirmed – and it needs to be done at the Nebelhorn Trophy tournament in Germany.
Mark Kondratyuk, an 18-year-old figure skater from CSKA and a student of Svetlana Sokolovskaya, will go to confirm the third quota for the Games.
Initially, Dmitry Aliev, who won the European Championship in 2020, was supposed to go to Germany. However, shortly before the open rentals of the Russian national team in Chelyabinsk, it became known that Aliyev would not take part in the tournament. The skater himself explained this with health problems.
Three figure skaters – Semenenko, Kondratyuk and silver medalist of the European Championship Alexander Samarin – showed themselves most worthily at the open skates. However, Semenenko’s candidacy as a participant in the Nebelhorn Trophy immediately disappeared: participants in the 2021 World Cup, according to the rules, cannot deal with the confirmation of the quota. Therefore, the choice of the Russian Figure Skating Federation (FFKKR) was between Samarin and Kondratyuk.
It is worth noting that Samarin was not very successful last season due to health problems, but at the open skates he demonstrated his crown cascade – a quadruple lutz + triple toe loop, the most difficult and expensive in the world. The skater performed it in both short and free skating. Both skates came out quite confident, and Samarin rightfully began to be considered a worthy candidate for a trip to Oberstdorf. His past merits also played into his hands – the status of the vice-champion of Europe and the experience of international performances.
However, the choice was made in favor of Kondratyuk. He performed a quadruple sheepskin coat and a quadruple salchow in the programs, delighting with very original performances.
Choreographer Betina Popova in an interview with ! praised Kondratyuk’s rental to music from the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar:
“When I found out that Mark would skate to this music, I immediately realized that there will be a bomb, and I want to watch it on replay all the time! And he did not disappoint me. This program will be super awesome when Mark rolls it in. She already looks cool, stylish and strong. The last part I really liked: it’s not just the ending that we usually do – two rotations and a final pose. Kondratyuk finishes in a more danceable way. Overall, I like him, and the program is wonderful. “
It is worth emphasizing that at a tournament in Germany, a Russian athlete does not need to be in the prizes to confirm the quota – it is enough to get into the top 7. And eminent rivals are not expected in Oberstdorf – only American Vincent Zhou, who owns several quadruple jumps, can be called a serious competitor.
Last season, Kondratyuk won the bronze medal in the Russian championship. Then, in the short program, a quadruple salchow obeyed him, and the total amount for two rentals was 260.31 points.
Moreover, Kondratyuk qualified for the national championship with great difficulty. He performed unstably at the stages of the Russian Cup, which called into question his participation in the national championship. For this reason, even after the short program, which turned out to be very successful, few people believed that Kondratyuk would be able to fight for medals. However, the pure execution of most of the elements allowed the skater to take bronze sensationally.
Soon Kondratyuk confirmed that he can be considered one of the most promising and stable singles skaters in the country. He became a participant in the Commercial Cup of Channel One, where the team captains were eminent Russian singles – Olympic champion Alina Zagitova and two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva. During the draw, Kondratyuk was one of the last to be chosen to the team – no bet was placed on him. As a result, he found himself under the leadership of Medvedeva in “Time of the First”, and a little later flashed on the ice.
In the short program, Kondratyuk performed a quadruple sheepskin coat, quadruple salchow + double sheepskin coat and triple axel, and in the free program he jumped a quadruple sheepskin coat, two quadruple salchows, one of which was in a cascade with a double sheepskin coat, as well as a triple axel + oiler + triple salchow in the second half. He became the only man who did not make a single mistake at the box office.
The audience greeted Kondratyuk’s performance with applause, and the members of his team could not contain their emotions. Anastasia Skoptsova was the first to cry, and soon Evgenia Medvedeva joined her. She held Kondratyuk in her arms for a long time after the rental. Seeing such a usually reserved figure skater was unusual.
“Two or three years ago I watched Zhenya Medvedeva’s performances on TV – I could not imagine that someday I would skate and she would cry. I am glad that I got into Zhenya’s team: she helped me, and now I tried to help her, ”Kondratyuk shared then.
The skater had a real chance to go to the World Championship in Stockholm with Mikhail Kolyada, who won a ticket to the world championship thanks to his victory at the Russian Championship in Chelyabinsk. The fate of the second place in Sweden was decided in the final of the Russian Cup, but there Kondratyuk got worried and made too many misfires. It is curious that after the short program, the skater jokingly complained to the media that he did not have enough support from Evgenia Medvedeva in the stands for a successful performance.
After that, the world champion promised to come the next day – and kept her word. However, this still did not help Kondratyuk: he took fifth place, and Semenenko went to the World Cup.
This season, Kondratyuk was originally announced for the stages of the Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel, but Russian skaters were unable to perform there due to strict coronavirus restrictions. In exchange, the International Skating Union (ISU) allocated additional seats to the Russians in the next two stages, but Kondratyuk did not go there.
“We originally planned Mark’s performances this season in masters, but since he was given two Junior Grand Prix in France, we demonstrated the junior versions of the programs at the junior open skates. Since we failed to compete in Courchevel, we immediately switched over and started working on “masterful” programs, where more complex content and where it is allowed to perform quads in a short program, ”said then the coach of the athlete Svetlana Sokolovskaya.
Now Kondratyuk urgently needs to switch to an adult level and fulfill a responsible task – to protect Russia’s Olympic quota. The Nebelhorn Trophy will take place from 22 to 25 September.